Sutton electrician Plamen Petkov died saving child from drowning
An inquest heard the tragic story of how a hero died after he rescued a five-year-old girl from drowning.
Bulgarian born Plamen Petkov, 32, an electrician from Sutton, gave no thought to his own safety when he leapt into the sea to rescue five-year-old Darleen Myint.
The youngster, who was in an inflatable ring, was being carried out to sea by the onshore wind and current in the water at West Wittering, West Sussex, on May 26.
The child’s mother, San Thidar Myint, was shouting "my baby, my baby."
Mr Petkov immediately ran into the water to save her - in an area of the beach where swimming and inflatables were banned due to dangerous currents.
The inquest yesterday heard how Mr Petkov hoisted the girl on to his shoulders before getting into difficulty and becoming partially submerged.
West Sussex Assistant Deputy Coroner Joe Turner said Mr Petkov's actions were "extraordinarily brave" as he became overcome with exhaustion and was tragically swept away.
He recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Stefan Mayorov, Mr Petkov's friend who was with him that day, swam out to help him.
He said: "Plamen had the girl on his back and the child had her hands on his head.
"Plamen was not moving. I started talking to him and said to him in my language 'Pass me the girl'.
"His head was under the water and there was no reaction. I took hold of the girl and as I was turning back a lady took hold of the girl."
Mr Mayorov pushed Mr Petkov, to the shore and help arrived but it was not able to save him.
Mrs Myint, from Sutton, said: "I'm so grateful [Mr Petkov] helped with the situation.
"I did not have a chance to say thank you to him.
"He was a brave and honourable man. He didn't think twice when I asked for help.
"He was holding her and she was holding him back. If he had thought twice my daughter would have been far, far away and I would have lost her forever. He saved my daughter."
The coroner praised all those who tried to help that day and said: "Without any thought for his own safety Plamen Petkov was the first in the water.
"He managed to save the girl but by this time he was in grave difficulties.
"It is to his eternal credit he was able to save a girl adrift in a rubber ring."